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Possum Droppings – Identification and Health Risks

by | Mar 29, 2018 | Informational, Opossums | 0 comments

Opossum droppings, feces, or poop—whatever you call it, we know it isn’t the most polite of topics to discuss, but it’s a necessary one. Wild animals, when they make your home theirs, do all the same things you do. They eat and sleep, have babies, and, of course, they go to the toilet. This is unfortunately where the problems begin.

As the opossum wanders through your house, they leave a mess everywhere. And it’s not always easy to recognize at first, especially if you don’t know they’re cohabiting with you. Their droppings are about the same size as a pet dog’s and it has a similar color and shape, and it often smells the same.

The most obvious difference, however, is that the feces of opossums is dangerous and poses serious health risks to you and your family, your pets, and other animals.

How to Be Certain You Have Found Opossum Droppings

While opossum poop looks and smells quite similar to most breeds of dogs of medium size, you will always be able to determine if you are dealing with an opossum if you find something that looks like dog poop in places where your dog hasn’t been. Obviously, if you find ”dog poop” anywhere in your house and you don’t even own a dog, this would be a clear indication that you are dealing with an opossum. The only wild animal with similar droppings is a skunk, but in a case of a skunk entering your home, you would find a skunk because they only enter homes to have babies and to get out of the cold, and they will never go to your attic. In almost all cases, the droppings will be those of an opossum. There are some places that opossums prefer, and which you should check if you think that there is a possibility that you have opossums in your house.

Places where you will usually find opossum poop can vary greatly depending on the layout of your house. In most cases, you will find poop in your attic, especially if you have some sort of insulation. If there was a number of opossums there, or if you haven’t checked your attic in a long time, you will probably find poop all over the floor. Also, opossums like crawl spaces and insulation shafts, where they can crawl in, do their thing safely and crawl out.

If you do have a dog that could be blamed, you will realize that the poop is in places where the dog can’t enter, as they have small openings.

Generally speaking, opossum poop can be easily identified by the fact that it looks so normal compared to other wildlife species. You will know that you are dealing with poop right away because of the shape and scent, and if you can’t discern any features that you may mention, you are probably dealing with opossum poop.

Opossum feces carries disease-causing bacteria that can be extremely hazardous for people and animals, which is why we suggest calling in wildlife removal specialists to get rid of their droppings (and them) safely and effectively.

Diseases Spread by Opossum’s Feces

Even inhaling opossum droppings is dangerous as the fungal spores can get into the air and into people’s cardiovascular system and lungs. Some of the diseases spread through an opossum’s poop include:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Equine ProtozoalMyoleoncephalitis

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted via opossum droppings and can lead to liver and kidney failure and meningitis. Unfortunately, symptoms such as high fever, chills, diarrhea, and vomiting are similar to other illnesses and often results in a misdiagnosis. This can prolong the recovery period, or if it’s left untreated, the affected person can potentially die.

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that’s passed on from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the most common parasites in the world. People can become infected by eating undercooked meat that has been contaminated, from animal feces or during pregnancy, from mother to child.

While most sufferers are asymptomatic, symptoms can be similar to the flu, including:

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Body aches

If you have a healthy immune system you won’t experience any complications from toxoplasmosis; however, for those people with a compromised immune system, the disease can lead to illnesses like encephalitis, which is a very serious brain infection.

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is spread through opossum feces and is highly contagious. Even if a person accidentally steps in it the bacteria can get into the bloodstream, resulting in illness. The most common symptoms of the disease in people include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • It can affect people of any age but is at its most severe and dangerous, for infants and those with compromised immunity systems.

Equine ProtozoalMyoleoncephalitis

Equine ProtozoalMyoleoncephalitis or EPM is a serious disease that affects horses when they eat feed that has been contaminated by opossum droppings. It is a neurological disease and the symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the lesions on the spinal cord, brain stem or in the brain itself. However, the most common signs will include:

  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Paralysis of the face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stiff movements
  • Lameness

The parasite in the feces can be infectious for up to a year, which is why it’s necessary to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Dealing with Opossum Droppings

The feces left behind by opossums is potentially fatal to your family and your pets, as well as other animals. And, as with some diseases, like EPM, for example, the parasite can be contagious for up to a year. Removing their poop isn’t for the squeamish.

Once you’ve eradicated the critters, you’ll also need to remove soiled insulation (where they often make nests) and any other potentially infected items. Then you need to remove the droppings by hand, as it ensures the particles don’t break off and get into the air. We suggest you wear a HEPA mask and as well as robust gloves. We’d even go so far as to recommend you wear a Tyvek suit.

You need to start by picking up all the feces inside and in the yard and placing it in durable plastic bags. It’s a good idea to double bag the contents to be on the safe side. Afterward, it’s important that you clean the area using a strong disinfectant or enzyme cleaner, preferably with a fogging machine to ensure it gets into the nooks and crannies and other hard-to-reach spots.

Opossum feces carries disease-causing bacteria that can be extremely hazardous for people and animals, which is why we suggest calling in wildlife removal specialists to get rid of their droppings (and them) safely and effectively.

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